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To sell or not to sell...Give me a fresh perspective please!

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Chief2 View Post
    If the horse isn't happy, then either someone has to compromise, or something has to give.

    Not all horses are happy with having their riders hands constantly in their mouths, being constantly bugged by heavier use of the aids, and being dictated to every second of the ride. H/j horses usually have less of all of that to deal with, and the rider spends less than half of that time riding directly down on their backs. Not so dressage horses. What some look at as a beautiful partnership can be seen through another's eyes as pure dictatorial misery. Depends on who is doing the dictating, and who is on the receiving end.
    This post illustrates what I was thinking in saying 'a different approach'. To some dressage is heavy handed, micro managing of the horse. It really is possible to ride a horse in collected manner with a feather light rein contact. I can see how your horse could be frustrated by being asked to carry himself differently at age 15, he wouldn't have the muscles to carry himself if flat work had been mostly working on the buckle or however he was comfortable going.

    The top jumper riders do school their horses in dressage and a lot of top warmblood stallions produce jumpers & dressage horses. Probably it would be the easiest path for your horse to carry on being a packer over fences as he had before but I would still worry about sending a 15 yr old off in that direction. As soon as he becomes a bit unsound for jumping what will he do then? Plus you haven't been able to find a suitable lease for him so maybe its meant to be that he learns some new skills while he's young enough.

    What about trying to find a dressage or event rider who has soft hands and is familiar with starting horses. Have them hop on him a few times to see if they can make dressage or flat work easy for him. Its doubly hard for you both to make the transition when you and your horse are both trying to sort things out.


    • #22
      OP, you said "with the economy being what it is"....

      It is a bad economy and you can use this to your advantage. If you have a packer over fences who really dislikes dressage, please consider working with hunter/jumper trainers you know and respect to find a free lease. There are many riders out there who would LOVE a packer over fences and a horse who has been-there-done-that, and can afford picking up board and some expenses, but not the cost of buying a new horse.

      You may be able to find a person who ends up loving your horse and wants to retire him when his time comes. Yet there is comfort knowing that you still formally own the horse and can take him back if you need to.

      Good luck!
      Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for all the input - I guess I should clarify what's making him so unhappy...

        He's been a hunter for the past decade, with a few forays into the jumpers. However, he has such a pretty jump that we've kept him "hunterized". With the new program, we are asking him to start to package a bit more, and go into the contact more than I've ever asked him to do before...When we were really in the hunter groove, he went on the softest loose rein we could get him on, with minimal interference from the rider, and there was little emphasis on bending, lateral work or really asking him to come into the contact. Everything was soft, long and low. He has really struggled with going from long and low on almost no contact, to having a soft but very steady contact. He also seems to resent being asked to change his shape from long and low, and really having to use his hocks. He gets very frustrated with laterals, and seems to really resent having a rider sitting in the saddle (be it me, my BO, my coach, friends or part boarders who have ridden him) he was pretty much always ridden in a very light seat, or half seat, and rarely was I ever really sitting in the saddle with him. He was just one of those horses that loped along and I never really had to do too much with him, except minor half halts. He was a very easy hunter to ride

        He is *terrible* to hack, has bolted away a few times (quite badly too!, jigs, flings his head around, is spooky, and won't stop or stand. He also loathes bugs and hacks are just a sweaty mess for him. I don't do much hacking with him due to the fact that it's just such a production, even with quiet horses to keep him company.

        I have had 2 very reputable BNT's work with me (both are upper level coaches and riders, one dressage, one eventer) and their reasons for telling me he won't cut the mustard are many - he's not a great mover, he looks unhappy while working, he isn't conformationally set up for dressage and that may contribute, he is 15 and finding it hard to change his way of going, maybe some minor hock stiffness or arthritic changes, and so on. NEITHER of these coaches have offered to find/buy/sell me a horse. They know that he's special to me and I (until recently) wasn't even considering selling him. They have tried to do the best they can with him, but even they have commented on how evasive he is to ride, and how unhappy he feels with the work.

        If I want to change it up, I'll use my jumping tack and just let him poke around comfortably, and ride him how I used to, and it's painfully obvious how relieved he is by it, no tail swishing, he's forward and soft, and it's fun for both of us. He even loves doing his auto leads to show off (we worked long and hard on those when he was young!

        So there's a bit more history, hope that helps to clear it up


        • #24
          Reading through all the comments I could tell your horse is the exact same as mine OP. And glad your last comment proved me right.

          My horse's transformation was in the opposite direction, but I think it might be helpful for you to hear.

          Horse is a beautiful, imported gelding. He's built a bit long, and has a fairly naturally low head carriage. However, because of his breeding and the market at the time he was turned into a jumper. Ultimately this meant big bits, big spurs, a horse that was impossible to get on the bit, and generally not fun to ride. Eventually starts stopping (there were other compounding factors, but it all boils down to this).

          I ended up being offered him. He had had about 6-8 months more or less off to begin with, so it helped reset his brain a bit. But I basically turned him into what your horse is. The "perfect" hunter. Hacks around without much hand or leg needed at all, most of my control is in my seat (mostly in a light or half seat and sometimes more to really get something done). Now I probably work my horse harder on the flat than you used to, but nothing near the "dressage for jumpers" that he was doing before.

          His old owner comes down to see him and everyone is just so happy with how happy this horse is. Back to jumping around, and can pack around little kids due to his more simplistic training regimen.

          Ultimately if your horse isn't happy doing the job you need him for it's best to move him on. Let him find a home where someone loves him every single day for the job that he CAN do. And find him that home while he still has enough years left (also before you've "damaged" his usefulness as a hunter, it took me more than a year to retrain mine).

          If you want him to find a good home where you feel comfortable and he's happy then you may have to compromise on something else. Most likely price. My guy was free despite being "worth" quite a few digits. But his old owner knows he'll never be asked to do anything uncomfortable and even if I don't keep him for life he now has a job he's good at. More than a year later and both old owner and I are so happy we could click our heels. He really is loved everyday of his life for a job that he loves to do. It's the best feeling.


          • #25
            Originally posted by JustABay View Post
            I have had 2 very reputable BNT's work with me (both are upper level coaches and riders, one dressage, one eventer) and their reasons for telling me he won't cut the mustard are many - he's not a great mover, he looks unhappy while working, he isn't conformationally set up for dressage and that may contribute, he is 15 and finding it hard to change his way of going, maybe some minor hock stiffness or arthritic changes, and so on.
            This all makes sense. I don't know why so many people insist on trying to make a horse do something it finds difficult of uncomfortable, or that it simple does not like.

            I sold the wonderful, amazing, PEREFCT pony I bought and started as a 3 year old because she just was not going to be a dressage pony for me. In her first show she scored 75% at Intro and 65% at training level and the judge LOVED her. She was solidly schooling 1st level as a 4 year old and even doing some second level movements, but she was slightly downhill and had very uneven shoulders and a clubby foot which made some movements in dressage very difficult for her, and was causing extreme tightness in her right shoulder. Saddle fitting a dressage saddle was a nightmare.

            I sold her to a wonderful kid as a hunter pony and she has blossomed into more than I could have possibly dreamed of. She is so happy, her little girl is so happy, and all is right in the universe

            It sounds like your horse is a saint as a hunter, maybe you should give some kid a chance of enjoying such a wonderful horse, and let him do what he enjoys and does best?
            On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


            • #26
              There is a huge difference between using basic Dressage on a Hunter or Jumper for a few minutes or so as part of flatwork and 45min straight of it.

              I fully "get" that the horse does not like it...none of my older ones did either. Oh, they could do the bending, the leg yields and tolerate me sitting into them instead of keep a real light seat. For about 5 minutes. Then they were done with it. If forced to continue, you'd get the tail swishing, ears pinned, bit chomping, head shaking and, in one case, grunting act that made it obvious they had enough of that.

              See no point in forcing an old horse that has been successful doing his job for ten years and forcing him to learn a new one almost completely opposite the skill set of the old one. Especially if 2 coaches have noted he is not a good mover at all and that's going to be reflected in the judges perception and score. What's the point?

              Horses will tell us what they want but we have to LISTEN to them. Whatever the reason, this nice old gentleman is a Hunter and wants to stay one.

              See if you can contact the HJ trainers around and let them know you have a schoolmaster that needs some students.
              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


              • #27
                Surely there is someone out there in the same boat you are in-on the opposite side!

                Who out there has a hunter who wants to be a dressage horse?

                I love good trade...


                • #28
                  First of all, huge props to you for not insisting that your boy change to suit you. At fifteen, it's unlikely, and would be frustrating for everyone, as well as unsuccessful, IMO.

                  That said, are you sure you'll never be able to jump again? It sounds like this is your heart horse, and it would be a shame for you to part with him, only to find later on that you can actually do a bit of over-fences work, and keep both of you happy.

                  And if you're really set on rehoming him, I know you won't have a problem. Even at fifteen, packers, even at the lower levels are worth their weight in gold. And if you do have a problem, contact me - I'm sort of playing with the idea of making the same switch, in the opposite direction.
                  In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                  A life lived by example, done too soon.


                  • Original Poster

                    I'm glad that the majority feel I'm making the right choice...But why is it so damn hard?! I don't WANT to sell him. I love him, and he's so fun....and I still pray every night that I'll be able to jump again. The reason I can't jump is that I have serious herniations at L3 L4 L5 and S1, to the point that the discs are torn. I also am on heavy pain meds (morphine and anti-inflammatories) to manage day to day pain, and keep me moving. The doctors warned that if I had a bad fall or kept exposing my back to concussion, there was a serious chance I could rupture all of the discs and then would need surgery...Also lessening the possibility that I will be able to keep riding. As much as it sucks, I made the switch, and I miss jumping every day.

                    A girl at my barn jumped my guy today and he just looked SO happy. His whole expression was different, and he looked like someone else's horse. I sat in the stall and cried for a good hour after everyone left because I haven't seen him that happy in a while.

                    I want to find him the *perfect* home, but it's hard to find it when there's so much "junk" out there. I had an email from a 16 year old asking to lease him, and then asking if I would mind if he was part boarded to another rider while on lease. WTFruitbat?!?!

                    I just can't bring myself to sell him. I get SO worked up and upset about it, I just don't know if I can let him go. He's my buddy and has been so many things to me over the years (couch, therapist, escape, confidence) that I just choke at the thought of losing him forever.

                    ESG, whereabouts are you??! I'd send him out on "loan" if it meant I didn't have to sell him!


                    • #30
                      If your spine and discs are that bad, I sure wouldn't be doing dressage, girl! The reason I have two compressed discs is years of doing sitting trot on big moving, recalcitrant warmbloods, not from injury. I think hunters are much easier on a rider's back, but that's me.

                      PM me.
                      In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                      A life lived by example, done too soon.


                      • #31
                        Have you tried to manage your horse's pain? At the very least it sounds like his hocks and back hurt. Injecting his hocks could alleviate alot of discomfort and resistance. I would start there or try surpassing his hocks first am and pm for 5 days and see if he "likes" Dressage any better. That would be a pretty conclusive cheap fix and you could continue to ride your beloved horse whom I assume doesn't hurt your back. Big Dressage moving horses with alot of suspension will probably agrevate your condition.
                        If your Trainers are upper level Trainers they may not know all the little tricks to keep less than conformationally ideal horses comfortable.


                        • #32
                          Is there a local lesson program that you admire that you could free-lease him to? I would think that he would be a dream horse for the right program.
                          -Debbie / NH

                          My Blog: http://deborahsulli.blogspot.com/


                          • Original Poster

                            pixie - hocks were injected last year, with recheck this year to determine if we needed to inject again - vet said no. Horse also has chiro, acupuncture and had NEW saddle fitted recently (last month). Vet can't find much that needs to be done to keep him sound, but says he is older (15) and has done a lot of years of jumping, so he probably is getting stiff and creaky, and probably does have some minor arthritic changes that are affecting his ability to have to use new muscles and carry himself differently.

                            ESG - Interesting - my physio and chiro said that flatting was good for me as the motion helps to keep everything moving, through my low back, and has forced me to work my core - which has taken some of the load off my back! Check your PMs


                            • #34
                              Try a different Vet! Jmho
                              There is ALOT you can do to keep a 15 year old comfortable!


                              • Original Poster

                                Pixie, no offense, but I have spent a fortune on trying to chase a lameness issue on this horse, and now that he is sound to jump and happy to do the hunter work, isn't that enough? Why would I go through the whole diagnostic money pit again, just to find out what the first 2 vets already told me?

                                He is comfortable, just not in dressage work.


                                • #36
                                  I 5th (12th? 20th?) the suggestion to see if you can find a lesson set up you trust. Work him into their program for a few months, see if a lesson kid half lease or full lease shows up.

                                  If I were in your shoes, I would do this:

                                  - Contact the local H/J trainers I know and like, who have facilities I would board at if I were looking to board. If they don't want a free lease lesson horse, and don't think they'll find a leasee, either, I would...

                                  - Post an ad on COTH in the "giveaways" (if that is okay for the terms of use), see what happens


                                  - Reach out to the posters here that you may have some kind of relationship with already who are trainers/BO/BMs and see if they can offer your horse a home for however long they can

                                  And, once your horse has found said home and passed whatever trial period is agreed upon (and since this is "me" in your shoes, I would wait and wait until I found that home, either just doing hunter hacking or not riding at all and letting rubbery teens play with him to keep him fit), then I would do a full or part lease of a horse suited to dressage. That way, if my horse needs to come home, I have a financial end in sight to my commitment to the lease if I need it. And, with if I had your back condition, I would have it in the back of my mind that a lease is the better option, too, in case I need surgery, or have to switch riding goals again.


                                  • #37
                                    No offense taken.....sounds like you are ready to move on. Best of luck!


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by JustABay View Post
                                      Hey everyone! So I finally caved and admitted to myself that my current boy isn't happy doing what we're doing anymore, and might be better off going to a home where his talents (and heart) will be better used and appreciated.

                                      get over yourself this is you not the horse

                                      I've had to switch to dressage after a back injury, and my horse is most definitely NOT happy about it. We've been having some pretty miserable rides, and my coach finally gave me the tough love talk last week, and said that it might be time to consider that we're both unhappy, and we both need a change, and it's not fair to either one of us to keep going the way we are.

                                      its not the horse ok, its you and your coach - you need a different trainer

                                      ok matey- ask your trainer to explain what the half halt stride is and what it does and get her to get on and show you if you cant do it- now this is a basic movement and is used in all disipilines across the board and is a freind of a pace just like trot is

                                      the answer is ---- but dont tell her/him that
                                      its to inform the horse something going to change via a direct signal of command
                                      from say going from a slower pace to a faster one and visa versa

                                      I've had this horse for 10 years, and he's great. He has great manners, is a packer over fences, and so fun to ride. Except if it's in dressage....then it's a battle. I can't afford two horses, and I can't afford to buy a new one, so it looks like the solution is that he has to be sold. I feel awful. I feel like I'm giving up on him, and I'm SO worried he won't go to a good home, or will wind up on a meat truck some day. He is 15, and while he has a few good years left, with the economy the way it is, I am stupid to think that there isn't a possibility he could wind up someplace bad, and I don't know if I can handle that.

                                      so dont this your partner and freind he was there in bad times of your life
                                      dont you dare give up on him and think he cant do it

                                      you have jumped this horse over fences and some dressage movements hes been doing and you dont even know,. like - half halt when you check him back or leg yeild schoulder in when one changes direction from one jump to another jump and hes been successful and looked after you so you come back in one peice hes been doing it already
                                      give the boy credit ----- he knows more than you do he changes legs when the course changes from left to right - thats flying change in canter thats dressage

                                      so dont tell me he cant do it when he is doing all the basics all ready

                                      This is my first *owned* horse, (I always leased) and I bought him at a very difficult time in my life. I feel like I owe him happiness, and I feel like $hit selling him because he isn't going to be what I need....but I can't keep forcing him to do a job he so clearly is unhappy in. I've been looking for a part board or a lease, but there has been little to no interest, and nobody wants to pay even part of the costs to ride him - everyone is looking to spend $200 bucks including lessons He's sound and fit, and could really be a great horse for someone who is able to jump and enjoy him - child or adult.

                                      itsa not him its you--------- go read a jumping book
                                      lets see get this one - preparation and training and competition by john smart
                                      you seeto start a horse of jumping you have to have dressage and dressage is schooling plenty of pics and explinations hes also my coach and has taught many many people and goes over to usa a lot hes taught pippa funnel
                                      and a few more bnt show jumpers and eventers which eventing has a dressage eliment

                                      Can anyone give me any ideas? Insight? I really need some fresh perspective on this, I'm going nuts. Thanks

                                      change your trainer i dare you to ask the question i have set out for you with your trianer if they cant answer it then they worth p in the pot big time


                                      • Original Poster

                                        goeslikestink - I think that it's unfair to assume that my trainers are crap. Both are upper level (Olympics), and have students competing at upper levels as well. I think they know what they're talking about, and I trust their opinion. If I were riding with some no name local trainer, yes, I would want to go to someone else and see. I don't think that 2 trainers who both have the same thing to say are wrong. I don't know about you, but I'm sure not an Olympic rider....I am inclined to trust what they say, I think they might know more than me.


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by JustABay View Post
                                          goeslikestink - I think that it's unfair to assume that my trainers are crap. Both are upper level (Olympics), and have students competing at upper levels as well. I think they know what they're talking about, and I trust their opinion. If I were riding with some no name local trainer, yes, I would want to go to someone else and see. I don't think that 2 trainers who both have the same thing to say are wrong. I don't know about you, but I'm sure not an Olympic rider....I am inclined to trust what they say, I think they might know more than me.
                                          maybe----- but as there always a but, its not the horse- he been a jumper hunter so its you the rider and if you had a clock work horse everything would be perfect

                                          which then its rider error, some people can wtc - but find the finer bits like ly si, hh etc hard this what riding is about and this what will amke you far great rider tomorrow than you are today and it doesnt matter whos training you

                                          its not the horse- as if you buy another neddy less than perfect and simular to the one you have then the problem will still be there

                                          any horse can do mixed events from dressage to juumping to eventing h/t x/c etc and here in uk we dont go buying presific horses to do one job
                                          boring it is lol

                                          most buy them to do all three dispilines so that they can broaden harizons and compete at various things much like your self

                                          yes you have hurt you back and injury prevents you doing things and

                                          crunch is the horse you have you can trust the next one you might not how long do you think you would last and then regret what you sold

                                          you need - a chiro practioner for yourself plus a trianer that takes in what you can and can not do to brign you along with the horse you have

                                          like i said the horse is ok and doing it already its you the rider thats having problems and not the horse

                                          so lets see if we can ask your trianer to elevate you on a clockwork horse
                                          then one simular to the horse you have before you make your mind up

                                          you will see and feel so differently ---- as there should marked changes in your riding skills on each horse

                                          clockwork one will be a bit of p, as it will do things for you- so not really as a rider doing much the hrose is doing it all

                                          the simular one will show up the problems you have on your current horse
                                          then you will learn a huge lesson

                                          trust the one you have and learn with him

                                          also get them to get on him aswell - if they that good they should be able to make him do xyz easy peasey and therefore should be able to help you more as a rider being able to feel and see where ones going wrong

                                          plus see if you can get a ride on an olympic one sure will know your over horsed then thats for sure- then you see its not the horse in question its how skilled you are as a rider - do that before you give your current horse away or sell it you owe him that much

                                          also think- on here on coth i have learnt a lot of what some trianers do regardless how big they are

                                          so take this also into consideration - as i am a person that speaks from the horse point of view and give other reason to think about as selling a good horse is hard thing and all factors must be considered before one makes the biggest mistake

                                          think-and take as in gerneral as i was saying, trainers like an easy life quick buck, some liek to think they good and wil buy horses they can ride with out taking the skill of the riders level into account
                                          some make it to the top via having horses brought for them which was a doodle to ride and again dont know much about breaking schooling and bring horses on, some will buy horses for people so tha they can compete and ride and down grade the person whos layed out the dosh and say that they cant ride it as good as them this again they have brought thehorse for you to ride they brought for themselves to use but without the cost of keeping it
                                          some trainers dont do mixed events but stick to one thing therefore not using the horse to full ability or using the knowlegde they should have to bring that horse up to a standard whereby he can compete in 3 day eventing which is although one dispiline but has 3 eliments in others works the other 2 they would stuck at ( if not dressage)

                                          you horse you have does hunter/jumper he knows the basics as hes been doing during this time ---- like i said hh flying changes, ly si are all basic foundation of dressage -------- give your horse credit

                                          if one doesnt beleive me then ask your olympic trianers at what part of jumping does a horse use dressage
                                          they should know and tell you and if they do then you know its you again that needs looking at and not the horse

                                          if your finding it hard ok do everything in walk 1st before you move up a gear use all paces of walk using the hh , if the horse hasnt learnt it then start of going down gears to halt so its half halt halt as ther eis nowhere esle for him to go but stop oncce mastered use you wlak paces and change up and down then all your trot paces etc
                                          so anything your asking do it walk - and vary the work load so its not boring for him and you get frustrated us your imagination and play with him
                                          using your new found teqinues - if hacking out use them on quiet roads or lanes ie ly, si hh etc lenghten shorten your paces etc

                                          as this is all basic dressage- cant run before you can walk and one as a rider cant go upwards untill they learnt the basics of how a horse works
                                          Last edited by goeslikestink; May. 22, 2012, 11:30 AM.